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HEALTH ADVICE: DIABETES

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition which occurs when the body cannot make or use insulin correctly. Insulin is a hormone that turns the sugars in the foods we eat into energy. When a person has diabetes, too much sugar is found in the blood. Over time this can damage the heart, blood vessels, eyes, nerves and kidneys, and cause foot ulcers which could lead to amputation. There are two types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1: The body cannot make insulin. People with type 1 diabetes require daily injections of insulin to control their condition.
  2. Type 2: The body cannot use the insulin that it makes, or the insulin that it makes does not work correctly.

Most people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.

What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

  • The symptoms of diabetes are
  • Feeling tired and irritable
  • Urinating more than normal
  • Being very thirsty
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor wound healing

Some individuals, especially older persons with Type 2 diabetes, often do not have any symptoms

Who is at risk?

  • Anyone can develop diabetes, but some people are more at risk than others.
  • Over 60 years old
  • Overweight
  • A family history of diabetes
  • People of Asian origin
  • High blood pressure
  • Women with previous diabetes developed during pregnancy or high birth-weight infants (more
  • than 4 kg)

How is diabetes diagnosed?

A blood test can establish whether or not you have diabetes and can be done at your local clinic

How can I prevent diabetes?

Diabetes can often be prevented, or the onset delayed, by eating correctly, exercising regularly, maintaining a normal body weight and by not smoking.

How is diabetes treated?

Treatment of diabetes involves changing your lifestyle and lowering the blood glucose level by either taking tablets or insulin injections regularly. People with Type 1 diabetes need to use insulin to regulate their blood-sugar levels. Oral medication may be prescribed to people with Type 2 diabetes and in some cases, insulin may be needed. Healthy eating, regular exercise and maintaining a normal body weight are the best ways to keep diabetes under control. Be physically active - at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate activity on most days of the week. More activity is required for weight control.

What if I already have diabetes?

If you already have diabetes, a healthy diet and regular physical activity can lead to a reduced need for Type 2 diabetes medication. It will also delay the onset of complications.
Diabetes damages blood vessels and nerve cells and thus increases the risk of heart disease or stroke. Diabetes can cause blindness and is a leading cause of kidney failure. Ensure that you have your blood sugar level checked regularly. If your diabetes is controlled, your chance of developing complications is greatly
reduced.